The replication of influenza virus RNA was monitored by RNA-RNA hybridization with subsequent analysis of hybrid duplexes, as well as by immunosorbtion of viral nucleocapsids from extracts of [H]uridine-labelled cells followed by the isolation and characterization of nucleocapsid-associated RNA. The nucleocapsid-associated RNA preparations contained mostly negative-strand genomic RNA. Electrophoresis of the hybrid RNA duplexes or single-stranded nucleocapsid-associated RNA in polyacrylamide gel revealed an ‘early’ replication pattern, with a predominance of the NP and NS gene segments, in cells labelled from 0 to 1 h post-infection. At later stages of infection the pattern changed to the ‘late’ one, with the M gene segment in excess of NS, and the NP gene no longer predominant. Cycloheximide added as late as 2 or 3 h post-infection suppressed RNA replication. Moderate concentrations of cycloheximide inhibited the replication of NS and NP gene segments to a lesser degree than the replication of the other RNA segments, thus restoring the ‘early’ replication pattern. Cycloheximide treatment resulted in a slight increase in the percentage of positive strands in nucleocapsid-associated RNA. The role of protein synthesis in the transition from the ‘early’ to the ‘late’ pattern of influenza virus RNA synthesis is discussed.


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